The photo deemed “offensive” by Facebook

Facebook has apologised for deleting an innocuous picture of a gay couple because it was deemed as “offensive,” reported the Guardian on Wednesday.

The photo of the marriage of Kelsey and Erik (religious leaders in a small American Pentecostal congregation) was posted on the Gay Marriage USA page, which has almost 300,000 followers.

After generating homophobic comments such as “I am just in disgust with their lifestyle. It’s disgusting and completely vile,” and numerous complaints, the image was removed by Facebook.

The page’s administrator and founder, Murray Lipp, was also punished and blocked from posting any content to the page for a week by Facebook because he’d violated its “policies and community standards”.

Lipp said that he has been previously warned and blocked a number of times over similar issues by Facebook.

He told the Guardian: “Not once has Facebook ever contacted me to give me an opportunity to respond – it simply blocks me each time and each time the block is for a longer period of time. It’s totally unjust that I should be punished for someone else’s homophobia.”

Facebook only reversed its position after it was contacted by the newspaper; a spokesperson admitting that “the content of the photograph in question did not violate our terms, however it was removed in error.”

He went on to say: “Normally these comments are reviewed separately and removed where appropriate. In this instance the photograph itself was mistakenly taken down, despite there being nothing in the picture that breaks our rules. We apologise for the error.”

Lipp has since been able to repost the photo on his page.

Facebook has come under fire before for the unilateral and often inconsistent manner that it deals with complaints on its social media service.

In April 2011, it was also forced to apologise after it deleted a picture from a member’s page of two male actors kissing in a scene from the British soap EastEnders.

Last year, Facebook was given a Special Recognition Award by America’s Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) for its support of the LGBT community, including recognising same-sex relationships and implementing a policy against LGBT bulling and abuse.

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